So, you want a Pennsylvania driver’s license…
But do you know which one you need?
Yes, there is more than one.
And each license class can operate certain vehicles.
This is why it’s essential to know the driver’s license classes in Pennsylvania.
This is what we’re going to cover today.
We’ll go through all the classes and explain what vehicles they operate.
Plus, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to get each one.
Are you ready?
Let’s dive right in!
What are the Driver’s License Classes in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has 7 driver’s license classes.
To make it even more confusing, the classes have the same letters.
- Class A, Class B, Class C.
- Class A CDL, Class B CDL, Class C CDL.
- Class M.
But don’t worry – once you get the hang of it, it won’t be so confusing anymore.
Let’s start with Class C.
This is because it’s the standard and most common driver’s license.
You can use it to operate any vehicle for personal use — that doesn’t fall under Class A or Class B (we’ll talk about this below).
So, you can use a Class C license to operate your sedans, SUVs, pickups, and vans.
Class A can operate heavy, non-commercial vehicles.
The vehicle’s Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) should exceed 26,000 pounds. The unit it tows must weigh more than 10,000 pounds.
Remember, these should be for personal use only.
A typical example of a vehicle requiring this license class is a recreational vehicle.
Its towing vehicle weighs 12,000 pounds, and the unit it tows weighs 15,000 pounds. Combined, the RV has a GCWR of 27,000 pounds.
Class B can operate single, non-commercial vehicles.
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle should be 26,001 pounds or heavier.
If it tows a unit, that should not exceed 10,000 pounds.
A camper van or truck camper falls under this vehicle category (of course, it should not exceed the weight limits — or else it will need a Class A license).
Class A CDL
If you see the term ‘CDL’ on the license class, that means it’s a commercial driver’s license.
Just like non-commercial licenses, Class A CDL is used to operate heavy, combination vehicles.
Again, the vehicle should have a GCWR exceeding 26,000 pounds and tow units 10,000 pounds or heavier.
Examples of this are double/triple trailers.
Most commercial drivers prefer this license class because of its flexibility — they can also use it to drive Class B and Class C commercial vehicles.
Class B CDL
If there are heavy, single vehicles for personal use — there are also vehicles that fall under the same weight category but are used for commercial purposes.
Examples of Class B commercial vehicles are dump trucks, box vans, and huge city buses.
If you need reminding, a Class B CDL can operate commercial vehicles with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds.
However, the towed unit (if any), should not go over 10,000 pounds.
And yes, Class B CDLs can operate Class C commercial vehicles — but not Class A commercial vehicles.
Class C CDL
Not all commercial vehicles are big and heavy.
There are some that have a GVWR of fewer than 26,000 pounds.
This is when a Class C CDL is needed.
Now, a Class C CDL is unique in that the purpose of the vehicle should always be to:
- Transport 16 passengers or more (this headcount includes the driver)
- Moves hazardous materials in large quantities (enough to require placarding)
So let’s say your vehicle doesn’t way more than 26,000 pounds and doesn’t fit any of the descriptions above…
What class do you need for that?
Well, a non-commercial Class C license will suffice.
Finally, there’s Class M.
You need this to operate motorcycles or motor-driven cycles.
As simple as that.
How to Get a Class C License in Pennsylvania
Just need a regular driver’s license?
Then follow these steps.
Step 1. Get a learner’s permit (required for everyone 16 and above).
- Complete the Non-Commercial Learner’s Permit Application Form (DL-180).
- Go to a licensed physician, undergo a physical exam, and have them fill out your DL-180 form.
- Visit a Driver’s License Center with the following:
- 1 proof of identity
- Social Security card
- 2 proofs of Pennsylvania residence (if you’re 18+ years old)
- The completed Form DL-180
- A completed Form DL-180TD (if you’re below 18 years old)
- A parent or legal guardian with proper identification (if you’re below 18 years old)
- Pass the following tests:
- Vision screening (if you didn’t already have this in the physical exam)
- Knowledge test
- Pay $41.50 for the initial permit and 4-year license (this will cost $31 if you’re already 65+ years old).
- Get your learner’s permit.
Step 2. Get a Junior Driver’s License (for those 16½ to 17 years old).
- Comply with the following requirements:
- Carry your permit for at least 6 months.
- Earn 65 hours of supervised driving (10 must be at night and 5 in bad weather)
- Go to your appointment with a licensed driver and bring the following:
- Pass your driving test.
- Have your photo taken.
- Get your junior driver’s license.
Step 3. Get a Class C driver’s license (for those 18+ years old).
- Wait until you reach 18 years old. Your junior driver’s license restrictions will automatically be lifted.
- If you are not yet 18 years old but you have held your junior driver’s license for a year, maintained a clean driving record, and completed driver’s ed, you can:
- Fill out the Application for Change from a Junior Driver’s License to a Regular Non-Commercial License (Form DL-59).
- Mail it to PennDOT, P.O. Box 68272, Harrisburg, PA 17106.
- Wait for your updated card to arrive in the mail.
And that is how to get a Class C driver’s license in Pennsylvania.
If you need more information, like how to get this license when you’re already 18+ years old, then check out our ‘How to Get A Driver’s License in Pennsylvania’ complete guide.
How to Get a Class A and B License in Pennsylvania
Unlike a Class C license, you can only get a Class A or Class B license when you turn 18.
However, you also need a permit before you get your credential.
Here’s what to do:
- Fill out either of these forms:
- If you’re using the DL-180 form, visit a Driver License Center and do the following:
- Submit the following documents — a completed Form DL-180, proofs of identity and birthdate (you must show original copies), your Social Security Card, and two proofs of residence in Pennsylvania
- Pass the knowledge exam
Whether you submit Form DL-180 or DL-31, do the following.
- Pay the appropriate fee:
- $5 (if you already have a Class C license)
- $41.50 (if this will be your first PA license)
- Get your learner’s permit and practice driving.
- Pass the road test.
- Receive your Class A or Class B license.
How to Get a Class A, B, and C CDL in Pennsylvania
For CDL classes, the process is the same.
Here are the steps.
Step 1. Get a CDL permit.
- Ensure you’re eligible for a commercial license.
- Submit the following documents at a Driver License Center:
- A completed CL-31CD (Commercial Learner’s Permit Application) and DL-11CD (Self-Certification Form)
- A valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (check the application form if this applies to you)
- A valid non-commercial license
- Proofs of identity, Pennsylvania residence, SSN, and citizenship or legal presence
- Pay the appropriate fee (check the total in your application form)
- Wait for your Knowledge Test Authorization from the DOT. Without it, you cannot take the CDL knowledge test(s).
- Go to any Driver’s License Center and pass the vision screening and required knowledge tests.
- Receive your CDL permit.
Step 2. Get a CDL.
- Hold your CDL permit for 15 days or longer.
- Complete an Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) from an FMCSA-approved provider.
- Bring the following to your appointment:
- Your valid CDL permit
- Your current non-commercial license
- Proof of SSN
- A CMV appropriate for the CDL class on your application
- Pass all three parts of the CDL skills test.
- Get your CDL Driving Document and bring it to a Photo License Center.
- Have your photo taken and receive your CDL class.
For more information, check out our ‘Pennslyvania CDL Requirements article.
How to Get a Class M License in Pennsylvania
You can start working on your Class M license when you turn 16 years old.
Here are the steps:
Step 1. Get a motorcycle permit.
- Download an Application for a Motorcycle Learner’s Permit (DL-5) and fill it out.
- Visit a Driver’s License Center with a parent or guardian if you’re under 18 years old.
- Submit the following documents:
- Proof of identity (1), Social Security (1), and Pennsylvania address (2)
- The completed DL-5 form (your parent or guardian must sign the application witnessed by a DMV employee).
- Pass the knowledge test.
- Pay the $51.50 fee, covering your permit and a 4-year motorcycle license.
- Receive your motorcycle permit.
|NOTE: Although you can now operate a motorcycle, a licensed motorcycle driver must supervise you. And you can only drive between sunrise and sunset. |
You also cannot carry passengers except for the licensed driver supervising you.
Step 2. Get a Class M License.
- Applicants under 18 must comply with the following:
- Hold your motorcycle permit for at least 6 months
- Accumulate 65 supervised driving hours
- Complete a Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course (this program gives you 15 hours towards your required supervised driving hours).
|NOTE: If you took a Basic Rider Course, a certified Rider Coach administers a skills examination. Passing it excuses you from taking the DOT road test.|
- Pass the road test (if required).
- Get your Class M driver’s license.
The Wrap Up
And that was your complete guide to the driver’s license classes in Pennsylvania.
So which one do you need?
Is it the regular Class C license?
Or maybe you want to drive your RV around and need a Class A or B license.
If you’re looking to be a commercial driver, then choose which CDL class fits you most.
And finally, if you just want to drive a motorcycle, you can go for the class M license.
Whatever the case, follow the necessary steps to obtain that license class.